“With elements of punk, post-punk, jazz, classical, straight rock, opera and music hall, the Ascension Band are that rare thing: Something Wholly Other. They retain avant garde cred and still manage to rock harder than AC/DC.” – www.varsity.co.nz
by organist/conductor/arranger Nigel Patterson (The Black Seeds, The Manta Rays, Fly My Pretties), guitarist & organiser Dave Edwards (fiffdimension, The Winter), and over a dozen musicians on guitars, basses, drums, electronics, keyboards, trumpets and vocals, was the seed that grew into a full scale electric symphony: Evolution.
“The 50-minute piece of music, broken down into six movements, was performed live over a few nights for the Fringe Festival in 2005; the group taking out the Best Music Award.
“It was stunning. Discordant guitars were choked, drums clattered and crashed, voices mingled with percussion and keyboards – but this form of free-improvisation had a structure to it. It had movement, it had a plan. It was a great beast of a song that writhed and wriggled and often managed to run downhill, away from the players – in the best possible way.
“Here, the show has been recorded onto a CD for posterity – and it begs discovery. It’s an intense listen – but that’s to be expected from a group of players who took their name from one of John Coltrane’s toughest listening albums.” – Simon Sweetman
Nigel Patterson – hammond organ & conductor
Will Rattray – electric guitar
Bell Murphy – bass
Warwick Donald – bass
Murray Stewart – keyboards
Damian ‘Frey’ Stewart – laptop
Ryan Prebble – tone generator
Felicity Perry – vocal
Atushi Iseki – vocal
Matt Baxter – drums
Greta Welson – drums
Today is the last day of winter in the southern hemisphere – so to celebrate, here’s the fifth album from The Winter – a New Zealand free improvisation trio of Mike Kingston, Simon Sweetman and Dave Edwards… with a sound that swerves from acoustic folk/blues with hints of Asian, Celtic, and Balkan influences, to electroacoustic soundscapes, abstract dissonance, and pots & pans percussion.
A few years ago I wrote a chapter of Jazz Aotearoa, a book about New Zealand jazz music history, discussing the free improvisation and avant-garde jazz scene in Wellington at the turn of the millennium.
in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway is a collection of improvised instrumental music with some of the musicians in that scene, from the point of view of my own attempts as an untrained outsider to fit in with these advanced jazz players – including Jeff Henderson, Blair Latham, Paul Winstanley, Dan Beban, Julie Bevan and more.
It was partly recorded in 1999 and partly in 2014, to show an evolution. An easy way to tell them apart is that Simon O’Rorke played percussion on all the 1999 tracks and synthesiser on all the 2014 ones.
Simon O’Rorke – percussion, synthesisers
Paul Winstanley – synth bass
Blair Latham – alto sax, bass clarinet
Jeff Henderson – clarinet
Bridget Kelly – tenor sax
Dan Beban – electric guitar
Julie Bevan – acoustic guitar
Michael Hall – alto sax
Chris Prosser – violin
Dave Edwards – electric and acoustic guitars, bass, electronics, tenor sax
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A companion to The Marion Flow, recorded in 1999 by the same lineup who provided that album’s longest (and least conventionally song-based track, pointing the way towards the increasingly radio-unfriendly Mantis Shaped and Worrying), “Lucifer Directing Traffic (at 3AM)”
Recording engineer Paul Winstanley, head of the excellent, now San Francisco-based avant-garde music label Eden Gully recalls it thus:
“after recording tracks for The Marion Flow at Wafer HQ in New Plymouth an ad hoc group of associated locals assembled to record for several sessions of improvised rock/noise deconstruction. really, the only rock references here come from the guitars, with the sputtering synth, air-sucking turntables, didgeridoo and sundry toys providing layers of surreal abstraction. throw in some spoken word and a special guest appearance by N.P. record mogul Brian Wafer on vacuum cleaner and the dAdApApA nova had blazed and fizzled in the blink of an eye.
“it wasn’t until several years later after the master mixes had been lost, partially recovered and then rediscovered intact again that “Waiting for the Drummer’ was given a final mastering and released as a CDR on EdenGully. it’s been a long strange journey…..”
“This is something that he has to do, that he will do, come fame or oblivion” –Chris Knox
The second volume of fiffdimension’s best-of compilations, a sequel to Gleefully Unknown: 1997-2005 , sees increasingly wide-ranging experimentation and exploration both sonically and geographically, from New Zealand and beyond to Australia and East Asia.
Featuring tracks from the albums
Ascension Band: Evolution (2005)
After Maths & Sciences (2006)
South Island Sessions (2006)
First Time Around: East Asia (2008)
The Winter: 2011 (2011)
The Winter: Flying Visit (2012)
+ previously unreleased tracks
“Whilst shopping from fiffdimension make sure to get hold of ‘Gleefully Unknown’, a best-of compilation of Dave Edwards’ music from 1997 to 2005. Rough outsider folk-blues mysteries, dissonant rock textures, electric and acoustic improvisations… Edwards strikes me as one of the most overlooked musicians from the fertile lands of New Zealand and if you need a fresh start this might very well be the place.” – Mats Gustafsson, The Broken Face
A compilation of songs, spoken word and instrumentals from the first half of my gloriously unsuccessful career to date… if you enjoy this, try the sequel Fame & Oblivion: 2005-2013
Featuring tracks from the albums